Last week I had a particularly bad day at work. I went to a meeting where just about every behaviour I warn students about was on display. So, no-one (except idiotic me) was prepared to stand up to the leader, the decision was made to do something that we had done several times before which had always failed, and there was a collective delusion about the organisation we work for and how prestigious it is. This is known as corporate narcissism – when you fall in love with your organisation and convince yourself that it is so great that nothing but success will be had. It almost always leads to your competitors overtaking you. So, decisions were made based on what we always do which looks really logical in short term but actually endangers our long-term prospects. I couldn’t quite believe how people were behaving. I have a bit of a reputation in my department for being right. This is not because I am psychic, but just because I have been around the block many times and have seen it all and its consequences before. If you do x then you will get y. No-one wants to hear this, of course, and so no-one wanted to hear my point of view and I left the meeting wondering why I had been invited, and hoping I wasn’t asked again. Despite the fact that I think I had a valid point, I left the meeting feeling stupid, naive, gullible, childish and a fool.
So, what a fantastic relief to make the small panel at the top of this post. It took less than half an hour. I absolutely knew what I wanted to do. I had the materials to hand. I found some eggs to trace as I find egg shapes peculiarly hard to draw. The Bernina worked first time. So, the speed was pretty much a function of preparation rather than skill. The end result, however, pleased me very much. Those of you who read this blog occasionally will know that I like sparkle, deep rich colours and textures, trimmings, embellishment and more meaning more. But this piece has a very restrained palette and simple stitching and that makes it work in a naive folklore-ish way. This is a new way of working for me, and I like the contrast with my more ornate stuff.
But what I really wanted to think about was the sheer joy of having an idea for something and then sitting down and being able to do it, to know how to do something, to be confident in my ability, to have a clear ‘voice’ in the work, to be able to initiate and then execute something really well. I experienced real joy in making. I felt a visceral excitement, and this was heightened by the previous week’s experience of being stupid and worthless.
When I call myself an academic quilter, it is usually because I use my work to think about academic, cerebral things, but my very brief sewing experience this morning consolidated a great deal of what I know about group theory and decision making, and about strategy, organisational behaviour and leadership. This is going to sound a bit pious, but organisational politics and dysfunctional organisations are death. Creativity is life.
This is the finished panel after I added the writing: